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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Power List 2023: Life Sciences

Anthony Atala
Jack Bailey
Doug Burns
Brian Caveney
Tim Condron
Ginger Dosier

Fred Eshelman
Paul Garofolo
Chad Henry
Roger Jeffs
Jamie Macdonald
Martin Meeson

Kevin O’Brien*
Gustavo Pesquin
Laura Helms Reece 
Martine Rothblatt
Ravish Sachar
R. Jude Samulski

Scott Uknes
Eric Ward
Richard West


KEVIN O’BRIEN

president for North America | Merz Therapeutics
Raleigh

O’Brien joined the German-owned Merz company in 2017, having spent 16 years at Allergan, the producer of Botox. Since then he’s led significant growth as Merz has expanded its research and development of various therapeutic products for patients suffering various neurological conditions including Parkinson’s disease, ALS and cerebral palsy.

His expertise in product launches and leading teams has helped build the Merz brand in the U.S. and Canada. He’s also worked on various advocacy partnerships to promote awareness of movement disorders.

O’Brien has a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University in California and a law degree from Western State College of Law in California. He worked for Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific earlier in his career. 

Friedrich Merz founded a chemical business in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1908. The company is now led by a fourth generation of the Merz family and employs more than 3,700 globally, including several hundred in Raleigh. The capital city is home to the Merz Therapeutics unit led by O’Brien and Merz Aesthetics, whose CEO is Bob Rhatigan.

Favorite family tradition: Snow skiing — we’ve skied all over the world including indoors in Dubai.

Favorite N.C. place to visit: My wife and I went to Beaufort during the pandemic and it was beautiful. I’d love to go back now that more places are back open.

What do you listen to on your commute: Anything upbeat to start the day — but I live just a few miles from my office, so it’s a pretty short playlist.

Major inspiration: The people of Merz Therapeutics. Every day they commit to bringing better outcomes to more patients living with movement disorders and have created an amazing culture of care and trust. I am excited to work with our employees!

Career highlight: Having job opportunities that allowed me to live around the world — working across continents, countries, and cultures has shaped my management style and who I am today.

Favorite hobby: If the weather is nice, evening walks on the Capital Area Greenway.

Best advice to someone new in your industry: Take on a lot of different responsibilities — be curious and open to learning.

Key industry change over the next five years: An increased need for digital tools and solutions to aid health care providers in effectively diagnosing and treating patients.


ANTHONY ATALA

director | Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Winston-Salem

The veteran professor’s research includes creating the 3D bioprinter and leading the team that produced the first lab-grown bladder to be implanted in a human patient. The graduate of the University of Louisville’s medical school has edited 25 books and authored more than 800 scholarly articles. The Peru native is a recipient of the Christopher Columbus Foundation Award, honoring Americans working on discoveries significantly affecting society.

JACK BAILEY

CEO | G1 Therapeutics
Durham

Bailey took the reins of publicly traded G1 in January 2021. A negative report on the third-phase trials of its colon cancer drug last year sent shares sharply lower. Before joining G1’s board in 2020, the UNC MBA graduate worked for Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline, where he was president of U.S. pharmaceuticals for five years.  

DOUG BURNS

Vice president | Grifols 
Clayton

Burns presides over the ongoing expansion of the company’s Johnston County campus. The Spanish company makes medicines derived from human plasma and has more than 18,000 employees in the U.S., including more than 1,700 in Clayton. Burns has a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Purdue and a PhD. from the University of Delaware.

BRIAN CAVENEY

chief medical officer, president | Labcorp Diagnostics 
Burlington 

Caveney joined Labcorp in 2017 after stints as chief medical officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina  and as a physician and professor at Duke University Medical Center. A graduate of West Virginia University School of Medicine with a master’s from UNC Chapel Hill, he promotes regular testing to avert colon cancer and other diseases.

TIM CONDRON

president, COO | BestCo Inc. 
Mooresville 

Condron became the top executive at BestCo in 2014 after a long career in manufacturing at GE and other firms. He’s presiding over the company’s $177 million expansion of its Mooresville facility, where it makes lozenges and chewables used in over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. Condron is a Michigan State University graduate.

GINGER DOSIER

CEO | BioMason
Durham

Krieg Dosier founded BioMason in 2012 inventing an ecologically friendly process for making biologically created bricks and concrete. Bolstered by a $65 million capital raise, BioMason is ramping up production in North America and Europe. Customers include Swedish retailer H&M, which is installing BioMason floors in some locations. The Huntsville, Alabama, native has a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University.  

FRED ESHELMAN

founder | Eshelman Ventures
Wilmington

Eshelman is among North Carolina’s best-known entrepreneurs and philanthropists. His investment company focuses on private health care companies. He started the contract research organization Pharmaceutical Product Development and the drug developer Furiex Pharmaceuticals, which Forest Laboratories bought for
$1.4 billion in 2014. He has a bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill, where the pharmacy school bears his name, and a doctorate from University of Cincinnati.

PAUL GAROFOLO

CEO | Locus Biosciences
Morrisville

The University of Arizona graduate co-founded the company, which treats bacterial diseases, in 2015 after working as chief technology officer and global head of operations at Patheon’s pharmaceutical development services unit. Lotus raised $35 million last year from J&J Innovation, Tencent and other investors. It has partnerships worth more than $1 billion.

CHAD HENRY

corporate vice president, general manager | Novo Nordisk
Clayton

The N.C. State University graduate has led operations at the Danish company’s insulin factory in Clayton since 2017. Novo Nordisk just purchased an additional 104 acres at the Johnston County site. A Novo manager for more than 15 years, he  oversees 800-plus employees.  

ROGER JEFFS 

CEO | Liquidia
Durham

The UNC Chapel Hill Ph.D., who co-founded gene therapy developer Kriya Therapeutics, took his current post at publicly traded Liquidia in early 2022. Jeffs retired in 2016 as co-CEO of United Therapeutics, where he worked for 18 years. United and Liquidia remain entangled in a patent lawsuit, although a settlement is expected soon. Liquidia arranged $100 million in financing from Healthcare Royalty Partners earlier this year. 

JAMIE MACDONALD

CEO | Parexel
Durham

Scotsman Macdonald was named to his post in 2018. The clinical research company was acquired by the EQT private-equity group and Goldman Sachs for $8.5 billion in November. He previously led Morrisville-based INC Research, which merged with inVentiv Health to create Syneos Health in 2017. 

MARTIN MEESON

CEO | Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies
Morrisville 

Meeson gained his post in April 2020 following a 15-year career with the Japanese-owned manufacturing company. Meeson joined the company as a finance officer after graduating from the University of Newcastle. FujiFilm Diosynth has launched a major expansion of its U.S. manufacturing capacity, including a $2 billion factory in Holly Springs slated to open in 2025. Plans call for 725 employees.

GUSTAVO PESQUIN

CEO | AskBio
Durham

The Argentina native took the post in March after CEO and co-founder Sheila Mikhail stepped down for health reasons. AskBio grew to more than 800 employees under her leadership since 2017. Pesquin had been chief commercial officer at Amneal Pharmaceuticals, following senior posts at Sanofi, Abbott and Pfizer. He is a Northwestern University MBA graduate.

LAURA HELMS REECE

CEO | Rho
Durham

Helms Reece started at the Research Triangle-based contract research organization as a data processor and has been CEO since 2011. Her parents, Paul and Mary, founded the company in 1984. A major supporter of Durham public schools, she has bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from UNC Chapel Hill, where her father was a professor.   

MARTINE ROTHBLATT

chair, CEO | United Therapeutics
Durham

Before starting the pharma company in 1996, Rothblatt was co-founder of SiriusXM radio. She turned to biotech in 1996, teaching herself high-level biology so that she could help her daughter, who was suffering from pulmonary hypertension. She is the author of seven books, has directed two movies, and is a licensed airplane and helicopter pilot. She holds law and MBA degrees from UCLA.

RAVISH SACHAR

CEO | Contego Medical
Raleigh

The cardiologist founded Raleigh-based Contego, which manufactures devices designed to control embolisms, and hence, reduce strokes, during cardiovascular procedures like stents. The company raised $15 million last year, following a $22 million raise in 2020. He is physician-in-chief at UNC Rex Healthcare’s N.C. Heart and Vascular unit. 

R. JUDE SAMULSKI

co-founder, president, chief scientific officer | AskBio
Durham

The acclaimed scientist is inventor on over 480 total U.S. and foreign patents and patent applications, including active, expired, and abandoned cases. He directed UNC Chapel Hill’s Gene Therapy Center for 25 years before leaving in 2016. Samulski’s work was instrumental in creating two important bio startups: Bamboo Therapeutics, which Pfizer bought for $827 million, and AskBio, which Bayer acquired for $4 billion.

ERIC WARD

co-CEO | AgBiome
Durham

Ward is a molecular plant biologist with more than 30 years of ag-biotech experience and more than 35 patents and 75 scientific publications to his name. He’s a graduate of Duke University and like co-founder Scott Uknes, earned his Ph.D. at Washington University. 

RICHARD WEST

CEO | Baebies
Durham

West founded the pediatric screening company with Vamsee Pamula in 2014 and raised $37.5 million last year, bringing its total funding to $130 million. The NCBIO board member and Duke University graduate previously led Advanced Liquid Logic, which was sold to Illummina for $96 million in 2013. 

SCOTT UKNES

co-founder, co-CEO | AgBiome
Durham

Uknes and Eric Ward were among the co-founders of the biotech that has raised more than $250 million from Synenta, Bayer and others. The Ph.D. graduate of Washington University has written more than 40 scholarly works and previously helped start Cropsolution and Paradigm Genetics.

ERIC WARD

co-CEO | AgBiome
Durham

Ward is a molecular plant biologist with more than 30 years of ag-biotech experience and more than 35 patents and 75 scientific publications to his name. He’s a graduate of Duke University and like co-founder Scott Uknes, earned his Ph.D. at Washington University. 

RICHARD WEST

CEO | Baebies
Durham

West founded the pediatric screening company with Vamsee Pamula in 2014 and raised $37.5 million last year, bringing its total funding to $130 million. The NCBIO board member and Duke University graduate previously led Advanced Liquid Logic, which was sold to Illummina for $96 million in 2013. 

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